Thanos may be the most famous villain in all of fiction these days, seeing as he was the antagonist in one of the biggest movies of all time. Now he’s getting a special focus in a one-shot anthology spearheaded by some of the best minds in comics. Spinning out of the events crafted by Donny Cates in Thor, the Asgardian hero aims to get more info on Thanos, knowing the villain will rise again.
Thanos: Death Notes #1 opens with Thor arriving on Titan. Torunn Grønbekk writes this story, which is the main story that discusses the issue. Thor seeks information on Thanos and soon finds filing cabinets filled with stories connected to Thanos. He also finds someone else has been rifling through these files, which should get fans interested in where this all goes from here.
These scenes with Thor serve as a means to have him grab a file and then let the story cut to another creative team to tell it. It’s efficient and moody as a gloom hangs over Thor, and Death watches his every move.
The first story Thor pulls is “All That Is” by Christopher Cantwell and Travel Foreman. The story takes us back to an earlier era for Iron Man as he’s trying to figure out how a Thanos robot works, let alone how to turn it on. Foreman captures the dead eyes of the Thanos bot well, and when it does come back to life, it’s creepy as hell. This story is incredibly trippy, too, as Iron Man is threatened with the idea that life as he knows it may be a simulation. If Thanos did acquire the Infinity Stones, couldn’t he make us believe this is all fake and he rules all? It’s a creepy idea articulated well through story and art.
Next is “Love and Death and Much in Between” by J. Michael Straczynski and Geoff Shaw, revealing a moment Thanos shares with Death. She’s having him remember his first love and its tragic end. This tale is very well written, capturing the complexities of a younger Thanos who can fall in love and maybe even be a little naive. Not only revealing a terrible event that happened to Thanos involving a past love, this story also reminds us of Thanos’s perspective on killing half of all life in the universe. You might actually see his side of things since it’s logical and fair and not, in actuality, evil.
If the first two stories showed how complex and intelligent Thanos is, the final story by Kyle Starks and Ron Lim shows how powerful he is in battle. Opening on Thanos entering an empty bar, we soon learn an entire armada is waiting for him outside. That’s not all, that armada is capable of taking over entire worlds, yet Thanos jumps into battle with them without even a weapon or a plan. He’s just that strong. Lim’s art is exceptional and will take you back to the good old days. He hasn’t skipped a beat.
It might be in Thor’s portion of the story if you were to find a gripe. The art by Andrea Di Vito is good, with great moody lighting by David Curiel, but not much comes from it. He’s the framing device for the other stories, and that works, but he’s also given little to do or say. It’s neat to see him interacting with Death, and there’s a tease for more to come in this story, but I wanted a bit more.
A Thanos anthology seemed out of the left field since the character has been absent for some time, but the creative team nails every story in Thanos: Death Notes #1. Not only does it remind us of the complexities of this character, but reveals he truly is one of the most formidable foes ever to be created in fiction.
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